Friday, May 22, 2015

Weekly Open Thread: What's Your Favorite Farmers Market?

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 8:05 AM

Hip Donelson Farmers Market
This week in Dining, we've got a recap of community farmers markets opening for the season across the Nashville area, from Amqui Station to the Factory at Franklin, from a new spot on Vanderbilt campus (sharing an intersection with the shops of Hillsboro Village) to the ever-popular market serving residents of Hip Donelson.

We also got a chance to report the growing number of markets that accept SNAP/EBT (aka Food Stamps) as payment, a great move to help increase access to fresh local produce. (Thanks, Community Food Advocates for help identifying the list.) And we hit a few highlights of the current changes at the grandaddy of markets in our city, the municipally owned Nashville Farmers' Market just north of the capitol.

Personally, I hope to hit a many markets as I can — especially the ones I can walk to, 12South and the new version of the Vanderbilt market. (I hear it has some unique merchants selling internationally popular produce varieties.) But since every market is slightly different, I'd ideally love to visit every one.

Not that it's fair to compare, but it's unlikely I'll find anything similar to the amazing breakfast I once had at a farmers market in Marin County, Calif.: fresh Humboldt Bay oysters cooked to order over a wood fire in the back of a guy's truck. Two of those oysters, drizzled with butter and chives, filled and sustained me for the astronomical price of $2.50

Please chime in, Bites folk. What's your favorite farmers market? And do you have any farmers market memories to share?

And what else is on your mind?

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Noble Springs Dairy Offering Farm Tours

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 8:46 AM

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  • Noble Springs Dairy on Instagram
Do you like goats? Do you like goat cheese? Are you looking for something fun to do? All of the above? Then I have a great suggestion: Noble Springs Dairy farm tours. When you take a tour at Noble Springs, not only do you get to visit the goats (and see goat babies — I mean, kids), you get to see the milking parlor, the cheese-making facilities, and then sample the goat’s milk products they make. There are other animals on the farm, too and you get to visit with them as well.

The Noble Springs Dairy farm is located just a few miles outside downtown Franklin on land that provides all the food for the goats. The Nobles say that’s what gives their goat cheese its unique flavor. Because most of the tour takes place outside on this lovely land, tour dates are subject to cancellation due to weather conditions. The website has a list of tour dates for the rest of the year, and the Nobles have made it easy to sign up online to get a discounted ticket price ($10 for advance tickets). Tours take place on Fridays and Sundays; if you’re familiar with Dustin and Justyne, then you know they’re usually working at farmers markets on Saturdays.

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Mark Your Calendar With a Buffet of Food Events

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 7:48 AM

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I sincerely hope you're hungry when you read this, because we're about to fill up your calendar with some excellent dining opportunities. The first is more of a grazing opportunity, as Yum!East returns to Pavilion East in East Nashville on Thursday, June 4, 6 to 9 p.m. Yum!East is a fundraiser for Fannie Battle Day Home for Children, the oldest child care center in Middle Tennessee since 1891.

Now in its third year, Yum!East gathers more than 30 of East Nashville's favorite eateries and drinkeries to offer samples and small plates to attendees. The event is 21+ and no pets are allowed in the Pavilion, so please leave Junior and Fido at home. But the rest of you can enjoy food and beverage from the following list of participants:

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Enjoy Hot-Chicken Spice at Home

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 9:46 AM

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Just about any hot chicken fan worth his or her salt has probably tried to re-create their own version of spicy fowl at home. Especially for those who are truly addicted to the capsaicin buzz, the convenience of hot chicken on demand at home could be a game changer. Two local food companies have come up with new ideas to make that potential at least partially a reality.

The first one isn't really a hot-chicken substitute, but it does employ the same spice signatures. Lesley briefly mentioned Willa's Shortbread on Monday as part of her recap of the recent Southern Living food awards. Even though it was Willa's Tupelo Honey Shortbread Bites that made the list, their other new product is definitely worthy of attention. Willa's Nashville Hot Cheddar Shortbread Bites aren't fooling around when it comes to heat level. Flavored with local spice purveyor J.M. Thomason's proprietary hot-chicken spice mix, these bites bring the burn. As a snack along with a cold beer, they offer a heat that builds over time, just like a great hot-chicken plate. And like an order of Hattie B's, as the burn intensifies, you'll only want more.

Now don't get me wrong, these aren't Prince's hot or anything. I'd put them at a medium level at most hot-chicken emporiums, but they beat the hell out of anything Frito Lay would label as EXTREME!! (Emphasis definitely theirs, not mine.) You can find Willa's at many retail outlets around Nashville or buy them directly from the company's website.

But shortbread is not really chicken, so the quest continues to make your own at home. The big news is that now there is at least a viable shortcut on the path to home hot-chicken nirvana. In my past attempts, I've always come back to this Bites post where Justin Jones shared his recipe from the first Amateur Hot Chicken Cooking Contest at the Music City Hot Chicken Festival. Although there are many different ways to fire up your chicken, I've always believed that a lard-based paste applied after frying was the best way to create an honest homage to the original at Prince's.

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Springer Mountain Farms Creates Local Chefs' Council

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 8:30 AM

The Lee Brothers
  • The Lee Brothers
If you are a close reader of menus, you probably recognize the name Springer Mountain Farms. Many local restaurants prefer this Northeast Georgia-based poultry processor because of its network of smaller family-owned farms and commitment to raising chickens on vegetarian diets and without the use of antibiotics.

This is not to say that Springer Mountain is a small operation. It provides chicken to several large regional and national restaurant chains as well as an impressive list of Nashville-area eateries. Springer Mountain products are also available at many local grocery stores, albeit at higher prices because of the company's commitment to smaller-scale sustainable practices.

I've had the opportunity to visit a few Springer Mountain facilities and was impressed by their operations. Contracting with many small farms in North Georgia, the company controls all the poultry feed that is distributed to the chicken houses and employs a modern lab to check on conditions at the farms and the health of their chickens. Without the use of antibiotics, diseases can tear through a henhouse and decimate a flock, so it's important to stay on top of these details. But it's still a chicken house, so I can personally attest to the fact that you probably wouldn't want to spend a vacation day walking around in one.

Springer Mountain's commitment to the Nashville community goes farther than just providing protein. They have formed a Chefs' Council of notable Nashville restaurateurs and put on regular educational and networking events. Earlier this spring, they called together the council for a chance to exchange ideas and enjoy a meal prepared by chef Duane Nutter of Atlanta's One Flew South. After a networking reception (happy hour), the chefs enjoyed a presentation by the Lee Brothers out of Charleston, S.C. James Beard award-winning cookbook authors Matt and Ted Lee put on a "cookbook boot camp" every year for chefs who need advice getting started on their own books.

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Biltmore Winery's 30th Anniversary and More Reasons to Visit Asheville, N.C.

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 7:57 AM

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This past weekend, the Biltmore Winery in Asheville, N.C., held its 30th Anniversary Celebration. The festivities included the official release of its commemorative 30th Anniversary red wine blend, multiple wine tastings and other activities hosted on the grounds of the winery.

If you missed the celebration (sorry!), fret not; the estate offers tours of the winery, tastings and special events on a regular basis. Throughout the summer, you can even get in on a grape stomp! Tickets to visit the Biltmore Estate include admission to the winery, which offers an impressive list of varietals, with new wines introduced regularly. One of the newest that’s just perfect for our unseasonably warm weather right now is the Biltmore Estate Riesling, which is semisweet and crisp with just a touch of spice.

A visit to the Biltmore Estate isn't the only reason to visit Asheville. Along with the natural beauty of the North Carolina mountains, Asheville is a destination for food, wine and beer lovers. Every time another friend of mine visits, I kick myself for not having planned my own trip. I’ve heard it’s a vegetarian paradise, but it's definitely welcoming to people who like all kinds of food. You can rely on the recommendations of friends for your own itinerary or join up with one of the tours. Eating Asheville, a guided walking food tour and Brew-ed, led by certified Cicerones (beer experts), are good places to start.

Asheville also has a number of festivals and events coming up this summer. It’s a hive of activity for honey making, which is celebrated in next month’s Asheville Pollination Celebration and August’s Sourwood Honey Festival in nearby Black Mountain. There’s even a meadery.

For more information on all the things to eat and drink in the area, visit the Foodtopia section of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

First Bite: Embers Ski Lodge

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 8:54 AM

Hot Chicken Buns
  • Hot Chicken Buns
Ok, I'll admit it. When I first heard that there was going to be a new restaurant in 12South with an après-ski lodge theme, I thought somebody had enjoyed a little too much "snow" during the late '80s. But that's exactly the vibe that restaurateurs Lars Kopperud and Mike Dolan were looking for with their new Embers Ski Lodge, and early returns seem to show that they hit it right on the head and that patrons are lining up to join them on the chair lift.

Kopperud and Dolan know the neighborhood well from their experience owning Mafiaoza's next door, and they also knew they wanted to create a great bar for their neighbors. They brought in a creative team of general manager Matt Buttell and "creative director" Gary Hayward to develop a bar program that revolves around what they intend to be the largest and deepest whiskey library in town, and a menu of inventive cocktails with an element of fun. Embers also wants to make sure nobody has to wait too long to get a proper cocktail, so they have developed recipes that can be batched before each shift to ensure that a drink can be ready to serve within four minutes.

The drinks are just a little kitschy, with names like "Lost in Mace" and "To Bee or Not To Bee," and that's part of what makes them great. They also use top-shelf ingredients, which is reflected in the $12 price for their specialty drinks. But that price is in line with other premium cocktail emporiums in town, even if you are paying a little bit for the "shaker show" at those other joints. For volume drinkers, you can order a "Shot Ski" with four shots of Jager, Jameson, Tito's, JP Wiser and/or Pennington's Strawberry Rye served on an actual ski for simultaneous shooting.

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Ex-Catbird Chef Gets Prestigious New Gig at Intro in Chicago

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 7:57 AM

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It's always nice to see a local boy do good. Well, Chef Erik Anderson isn't exactly local, but we'll happily claim him after his successful stint as one of the opening chefs at The Catbird Seat, along with Josh Habiger. So we should be proud that Anderson has been named as the next chef-in-residence at Chicago's innovative restaurant Intro.

Intro calls itself "a school for entrepreneurs" and hosts a new guest chef every two or three months. The guests work with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ founder Rich Melman and chef/partner Matthew Kirkley to create all-new menus that literally convert Intro into a new restaurant that is reflective of each guest's personal style. From the theme of the food to the style of service and the soundtrack, each chef has control of the entire vibe during their period of residency.

For Chef Anderson's time at the helm of Intro, he is planning a "modern approach to French cooking with a deep respect for the classic technique.” The restaurant seats about a hundred patrons, and reservations are taken 30 days out like at Catbird. Reservations are going fast, so if you'd like to take a little culinary road trip to see what Anderson has been up to, you can start stalking Intro's reservation site. Anderson's residency began last week and will continue through July. If you want to check out his menu, you can find it here. The price point for Anderson’s menu is $75 to $95 (excluding tax and gratuity), and wine pairings are available for an additional $65.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Submissions Are Open for the 2015 Nashville Scene Photo Contest

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 3:05 PM

Winner of the 2014 Photo Contest: NICK SWIFT — HILLSBORO/WEST END
  • Winner of the 2014 Photo Contest: NICK SWIFT — HILLSBORO/WEST END
Fame, glory, cash and more await — submissions are open for the 2015 Nashville Scene photo contest! Finalists' shots will appear in the July 2 print edition of the Scene, and two photogs will win $300 each.

Want to submit your shots? Here's what you need to know:

• You must go to scenephotocontest.com to submit your photos
• Submissions will be accepted until June 4
• Each submission costs $5

You can submit as many as five photos that speak to your life in Nashville. Participants must live in, and photos must be taken in, Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Sumner, Robertson, Dickson or Cheatham counties within the past 12 months (May 18, 2014 to present).

Look through last year's winners if you need inspiration, and read some more specific (and technical) details are below:

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Preds Beer Fest Returns to the 'Stone on June 27

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 8:49 AM

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For the third year running (or skating), the Nashville Predators Craft Beer Festival is coming back to the Bridgestone Arena; it's set for 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 27. Billed as "The Coolest Festival in Town," this beer event draws together an entertaining cross-section of serious craft beer lovers, hockey fans and folks who just enjoy easy access to table after table of great local, regional and national breweries offering samples of their wares.

There aren't many good beer festivals that offer shade and air conditioning, so the setup around the concourse of the arena is a nice lagniappe.

There are several different ticketing options, with pricing that changes after May 31 and then again at the door for the walk-up crowd. Study the list below:

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